Grilled Tomatoes

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Grilled tomatoes with garlic and balsamic vinegar are the grilled side dish you never knew you needed.

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Once you’ve tried grilling tomatoes, you may never go back to eating regular tomatoes ever again! They make the most amazing grilled side dish, taste amazing in salads and salsas, and make one amazing tomato soup. Trust me, it is worth it to throw some tomatoes on the grill next time you are grilling.

Before all the cold weather rolls in, I am still getting out to grill as much as possible. Last week I found some amazing tomatoes at the farmer's market and I was immediately inspired to make them on the grill. Unlike some of other grilled veggies (like this amazing grilled broccoli), tomatoes do take a little extra work, but I promise, it's worth it. 

To make sure your tomatoes don't turn to mush on the grill, it's essential that you drain out some of the juice first. This process is simple and hands-off, so don't let it stop you from trying this out. Because once you have done that, magic happens. The first night we enjoyed these as a Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. But there are so many ways to use these from a quick side dish to salads to burger toppers and more. 

These gorgeous treats are mouthwatering and easy to make, delicious on their own or as part of another dish. However, before we dive into the recipe there are some important things you should know before you grill.

Grilling tomatoes on a charcoal grill and flipping them with tongs.

Which Tomatoes Are Best for Grilling?

Did you know that there are over 10,000 different breeds of tomatoes in the world? You wouldn’t know it looking at your local grocery store, where you might find five varieties (if you're lucky), but it’s totally true!

Ranging in size from bigger than your head to smaller than the nail on your little finger, tomatoes also have a lot of variety in flavor and in use – after all, you wouldn’t slice up a cherry tomato to put on a burger, and pasta sauce doesn’t work with a tomato that doesn’t have a whole lot of juice; these are just a couple of examples of why it's important to know which tomatoes are best for grilling!

This recipe works best for the normal sized red tomatoes you will find in every grocery store. While not the only tomato that this recipe can be used for, they’re a bit of a universal tomato that works well no matter what you want to do. Cherry tomatoes can be used to grill fresh off the vine, but they're best for kabobs; big slicer tomatoes also work well with this recipe, but you'll definitely want to cut them into slices before you grill them.

Even Roma tomatoes, which can sometimes be difficult to use, work great on the grill!

It may take a little bit of modification, but really – with a little ingenuity, any tomato will be delicious grilled!

How to Grill Tomatoes

For this recipe you will want to slice your tomatoes in half horizontally, so you have one half with the stem and one half with the bottom of the tomato, then sprinkle some salt on the cut side before leaving them to rest on a wire rack for about 15 to 30 minutes with a bowl underneath to catch the drips, which you'll want to set aside for later use.

While the tomatoes are resting, get your grill to medium-high heat; when the tomatoes are ready for grilling, lightly brush them with olive oil and place them on the grill cut side down for 4-5 minutes, or until they've reached your preferred level of char, then flip them over and grill them for another 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to bubble.

For instructions on what to do with the juices scroll down to see the rest of the recipe.

Flavor Variations

Grilled tomatoes are wonderfully versatile and leave a room for a lot of variety in one little dish. Here are a few ways you can change up the flavor of your grilled tomatoes to make them something that tastes totally different.

  • Make it Spicy: Add your favorite heat to the dish by dusting on some ancho chili or cayenne pepper to help the tomatoes bite back.
  • Lime Zing: Instead of topping the tomatoes with balsalmic vinegar, squeeze half a fresh lime over them just before serving, along with finely chopped cilantro.
  • Cheese Topped: Cover with slices of Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese for a twist on a mini pizza.
  • Italian: Dust gently with your favorite Italian spice blend to feel like you’re eating spaghetti without the pasta.
  • Barbecue: Brush a thin layer of BBQ sauce onto the tomatoes before you put them on the grill, and brush them again when you take them off to add another layer for a sticky barbecue delight!

Ways to Use Grilled Tomatoes

Once you’ve grilled your tomatoes you can eat them on their own if you like, but there are also a ton of fantastic ways you can prepare them!

  • With Eggs: There are a bunch of different ways you can put eggs and tomatoes together like egg muffins, omelets, and this amazing recipe for an asparagus and tomato frittata.
  • In a Salad: Grilled tomatoes are amazing in a salad. One of my favorites is a cucumber, tomato, and avocado salad that is as delicious as it is healthy.
  • Salsa: Grilling your tomatoes gives your salsa a fun smoky flavor that puts a new twist on an old classic.
  • BLT: You can take a BLT to a new level with a few additions like avocado, ranch dressing, and even grilled tomatoes. I love this turkey bacon BLT wrap recipe for a quick delicious lunch and the grilled tomatoes are perfect on it.
  • Soup: On a cold rainy day there is nothing better than a tasty tomato soup, except a grilled tomato soup. This recipe for a slow cooker tomato and roasted red pepper soup hits the spot perfectly.
  • Pasta Sauce: Have you ever tried a no cook pasta sauce? It is divine just a as it is, but making it on grilled tomatoes really takes it to the next level.

Tomatoes that have been grilled on a plate with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil.

More Grilled Vegetable Recipes

The Recipe
Grilled tomatoes with basil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic on a plate with fresh herbs.

Grilled Tomatoes

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  • 4 tomatoes (ripe but firm)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper

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Slice the tomatoes in half. Make sure to slice them across the wider art of the tomato, not through the stem. Sprinkle the cut side of the tomatoes with salt. Place them on a wire rack with the cut side down. Place a bowl or glass baking dish underneath to collect the juices. Let them drain for 15-30 minutes. Save the juices.

Tomatoes draining in a colander over a bowl.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Brush the tomatoes with half of the of olive oil. Grill them with the cut side down for 4-5 minutes until they begin to char slightly. Flip and cook for 4-5 minutes until they begin to bubble.

Tomatoes on the grill with dark grill marks.

While the tomatoes cook, whisk together the remaining olive oil with tomato juice (from draining the tomatoes), balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Serve this drizzled over the cooked tomatoes. Add fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or parsley, Consider adding some feta, goat, or Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Grilled tomatoes with a tomato balsamic vinaigrette and fresh basil.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2 tomato halves
Amount Per Serving
Calories 87
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 8mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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